The Dynamics of Thought
Swami Sivananda Saraswati
If the mind dwells continually upon one line of thought a groove is formed into which the thought-force runs automatically. Such a habit of thought survives death and, since it belongs to the ego, it is carried over to a subsequent earth-life as a thought-tendency and capacity.
Just as a new physical body is formed in every birth, so also a new mind and a new intellect are formed in every birth.
To explain the detailed workings of thought and destiny is not a simple matter. Each thought is a link in an endless chain of causes and effects, each effect becoming a cause and each cause having been an effect. Each link in the endless chain is made up of three components - desire, thought and activity. A desire stimulates a thought; a thought embodies itself in an act; the act constitutes the web of destiny.
Do not yield to fatalism. It will induce inertia and laziness. Recognise the great power of thought. Exert. By right thinking you can forge a great destiny.
The Karma of the present life is the effort of your last birth. You sow an action and reap a habit; a habit sown results in character; you sow a character and reap a destiny. Man is the master of his own destiny. You yourself mould your destiny by the power of your thought. You can undo it if you like. All faculties, energies and powers are latent in you. Unfold them and become free and great.
Thoughts Chisel Your Countenance
Your face is like a gramophone record. Whatever you think is at once written on it. Every vicious thought serves as a chisel or needle to write down the thoughts on your countenance.
The face is an index of the mind. It is the mould of the mind. Every thought cuts a groove on the face. A divine thought brightens the face. An evil thought darkens it. Continued divine thoughts increase the aura or halo on the face. Continued evil thoughts increase the depth of the dark impressions, just as the continued striking of a vessel against the edge of a well when drawing water, makes a deeper dent in the vessel.
You cannot prevent your thoughts from reflecting themselves on your face. You may wrongly think you have kept them secret. The thoughts of lust, anger, greed, jealousy, revenge and hatred immediately produce their deep impressions on your face.
It you possess the ability to read the eyes of others, you will be able to read their minds also at once. You can read the predominant thoughts of a man if you carefully note the signs on his face, his conversation and his behaviour. It requires a little training.
Sages speak through their eyes. Their eyes always glitter with spiritual power. They also transmit their spiritual power through them, and by means of their words of love and gentleness.
Negative Thoughts Poison Life
Thoughts of worry and fear are detrimental to us. They poison the very source of life and destroy the harmony, efficiency, vitality and vigour in us. The opposite thoughts of cheerfulness, joy and courage, heal and soothe. They augment our efficiency and multiply mental powers immensely. Therefore, always be cheerful, and smile and laugh.
The Creative Power of Thought
Thoughts create this world. Thoughts develop desires and excite passion. But the thoughts that devise methods of destroying desires and passions counteract the idea of satisfying them. So, when a person is full of desires and passions, the contrary thoughts will help him to destroy them.
Thought brings things into existence. Think of a person as a good friend and it becomes a reality. Think of him as a foe, then also the mind perfects the thought into an actuality. Only he who knows the workings of his own mind and has controlled it is really happy.
In the thought-world also the great law, "like attracts like", operates. People of similar thoughts are attracted to one another. That is why we have the maxims: ''Birds of a feather flock together".
Keep a particular thought in your mind and, so long as you retain it, regardless of whether you travel over land or sea, you increasingly attract to yourself, knowingly or unknowingly, only that person whose thought corresponds to your own predominant thought. Thought is your private property. You are at liberty to regulate it to suit your taste by steadily recognising your ability to do so.
The Contagion of Thoughts
Mental actions are the real actions. Thought is the real action; it is a dynamic force. It should be remembered that thought is extremely contagious, nay, more contagious than the Spanish 'Flu'.
A sympathetic thought in you produces a similar thought in others with whom you come into contact. A thought of anger produces a similar effect. It leaves the mind of one man and enters the minds of those to whom it is directed, even if the persons live a long distance away. It excites them.
The Application of a Psychological Law
Keep the heart young. Do not think, "I have become old." Do not even entertain this thought. At sixty think that you are sixteen. As you think, so you become. This is a great psychological law.
"As a man thinketh, so he becometh." This is a great truth. Think that you are strong, strong you will become. Think that you are a fool, fool you will become. Think that you are a sage or God, sage or God you will become. Thought alone shapes and moulds a man. The present is the result of your past thoughts, and the future will be according to your present thoughts. If you think rightly you will speak rightly and act rightly. Speech and action simply follow thoughts.
Man forever lives in a world of thoughts. Every man has his own thought-world.
Understand the Laws of Thought
Each person should have a comprehensive understanding of the laws of thought and their operation. Then only can he live comfortably and happily in this world.
By understanding the laws of thought, you can mould your character in any way you desire. The wise saying: 'As a man thinketh, so he becometh", is one of the great laws of thought. Think you are pure, pure you will become. Think you are noble, noble you will become. Become an embodiment of good nature. Think well of all. Always do good. Serve, love, give. Make others happy. Live to serve others. Then you will reap happiness. You will get favourable circumstances, opportunities and environments.
If you injure others, if you indulge in scandal-mongering, mischief-mongering, backbiting and tale-bearing, if you exploit others, if you acquire the property of others by foul means, if you do any action that gives pain to others, you too will reap pain. You will face unfavourable circumstances, conditions and environments. This is the law of thought and Nature. Just as you can build your good or bad character by sublime or base thinking, so also you can shape your favourable as well as your unfavourable circumstances by doing good or bad actions.
A man of discrimination is ever careful and vigilant. He always watches his thoughts carefully. He introspects. He knows what is going on in his mental factory, what Vritti or Guna prevails at a particular time. He does not allow any evil thought to enter the mind. He at once nips it in the bud.
By sublime thinking and watching the nature of his thoughts, a man of discrimination builds a noble character and forms a destiny. He is careful in his speech. He speaks little and always uses sweet, loving words. He does not utter harsh words that hurt the feelings of others.
He develops mercy, patience and universal love. He tries to speak the truth always. He thus keeps a check on the organ of speech and the impulse of speech. He uses measured words. He writes measured lines. This produces a profound and favourable impression on the minds of people.
He practises Ahimsa and Brahmacharya in thought, word and deed. He develops purity and practises straightforwardness. He tries to maintain balance of mind and a cheerful attitude. He keeps up a pure divine feeling. He diligently practises the three kinds of austerities, physical, verbal and mental - and controls his actions. He cannot think any evil thought. He cannot do any evil action.
He prepares himself for all favourable circumstances. He who spreads happiness will always obtain such favourable circumstances as would bring happiness to him. He who spreads pain to others will doubtlessly obtain (according to the law of thought), such favourable circumstances as would bring him misery and pain. Therefore, by the manner of his thought a man creates his character and circumstances.
A bad character can be transformed into a good one by entertaining pure and noble thoughts; and unfavourable circumstances can be changed into favourable ones by doing good actions.
The Laws Implied in Higher Thought
As you think so you become. Improve your thinking. Better thoughts will then bring better actions.
The mere thinking of the objects of this world is pain. Bondage is caused by the very act of thought. Pure thought is a mightier force than electricity.
A mind which is attracted to sense-objects tends towards bondage, while that which is not attracted to them tends towards emancipation. Mind is a dacoit. Slay this mind-dacoit. You will then be happy and free forever. Utilise all your strength in the task of conquering your mind. This is true manliness of right exertion.
Self-denial is a means of purifying and refining the mind. Purify and still the thoughts. The layers of ignorance covering knowledge cannot be removed without a calm mind.
Mind is manufactured from food. The subtle part of food forms the mind. Food does not mean merely what we eat, but what we gather through all our senses. Learn to see God everywhere. This is the real food for the eye. Purity of thought depends upon purity of food. You can see better, hear better, taste better and think better when you entertain sublime, divine thoughts.
Look at an object through a green or red glass: the object appears green or red. Even so, the objects are coloured by the desires of the mind. All mental states are transitory; they produce pain and sorrow. Have freedom of thought Free yourself from the slavery of prejudice. It blunts the intellect and dulls thought. Think of the immortal Atman. This is the correct method of inducing direct, original thinking. The Atman reveals Itself after the purification of thoughts. When the mind is serene and free from want, motive, craving, desire, thought, compulsion or hope, then the supreme Atman begins to shine. There is then the experience of bliss. Live the way in which the saints live. This is the only way to victory over thought, mind and the lower self. Until you have conquered your mind there can be no permanent or sure victory.
Thoughts - A Boomerang
Be careful with your thoughts. Whatever you send out of your mind will come back to you. Every thought you think is a boomerang. If you hate another, hate will come back to you. If you love others, love will come back to you.
An evil thought is thrice cursed. Firstly, it harms the thinker by causing injury to his mental body. Secondly, it harms the person towards whom it is directed. Lastly, it harms all mankind by vitiating the whole mental atmosphere.
Every thought is like a sword drawn against the person to whom it is directed. When you entertain thoughts of hatred, you are really the murderer of the man against whom you foster these thoughts. You are your own murderer also, because these thoughts rebound on you.
An evil thought thrown into the mental atmosphere poisons receptive minds. To dwell on an evil thought gradually deprives it of its repulsiveness and impels the thinker to perform the action which embodies it.
Thought & the Waves of the Sea
Thoughts are like the waves of an ocean. They are countless. You may feel desperate in the beginning of your attempt to conquer them. Some thoughts will subside, while others will gush out like a stream. The same old thoughts that were once suppressed may again show their faces after some time. Never become despondent at any stage of your practice. You will get inner spiritual strength. You are bound to succeed in the end. All the Yogis of yore had to encounter the same difficulties that you are now experiencing.
The process of destroying mental modifications is difficult and long. Thoughts cannot be destroyed in a day or two. You should not abandon the practice when you encounter difficulties or stumbling blocks. You should first attempt to reduce your wants and desires, then the thoughts will decrease gradually by themselves. The lesser the desires, the fewer the thoughts. The fewer the thoughts, the greater the peace.
Influence of Saintly Thoughts
The Buddha declared; "All that we are is made up of thoughts". Our thoughts are the cause of the cycle of births and deaths. So we should always strive to purify our thoughts. This can be achieved through prayer, selfless service, Japa, meditation and study of the scriptures.
The second effect of thought is its creation of a definite form. The quality and nature of a thought determines the colour and the clearness of that thought-form. A thought-form is a living entity and has a strong tendency to carry out the intention of the thinker. Blue thought-forms denote devotion.
The thought-form of renunciation is a lovely pale azure with a white light shining through it. The thought-forms of selfishness, pride and anger are grey-brown, orange and red respectively.
We are ever surrounded by these thought-forms and our minds are seriously affected by them. Not even one-fourth of our thoughts are our own. They are simply picked up from the atmosphere. Most of them are evil. Hence we should always repeat God's Name mentally. This will protect us from evil influences.
When a thought, whether good or evil, leaves the mind of a person, it gives rise to vibrations in the Manas or mental atmosphere. These vibrations travel far and wide in all directions and enter the minds of receptive people.
A sage living in a Himalayan cave can transmit a powerful thought to someone in America. He who tries to purify himself though he lives in a cave, really purifies and helps the whole world. Nobody can prevent his pure thoughts from emanating and entering the minds of those who really want them.
Just as the sun continuously converts every drop of water on the surface of the earth into vapour, and as all the vapour rising up gathers together to form clouds, in a similar manner, all the divine and pure thoughts that you project from your own lonely corner, mount up and are wafted across space, joining similar thoughts projected by others who ate like you. Eventually, these holy thoughts come down with tremendous force to subjugate undesirable forces.